Sunday, 5 May 2013

Hand in Hand with Jesus

      In the Gospel record of Mark, of the numerous encounters Jesus had with certain individuals, there are four which share one thing in common that is not shared with any others. By considering these accounts and comparing their similarities and differences, lessons can be learned that directly apply to our lives today.
      Early in his Galilean ministry, the Lord entered the house where Simon resided with his wife, his wife’s mother, and his brother Andrew (Mark 1:29-30). Seeing that Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever, Jesus "took her by the hand" and healed her at once (v. 31, NKJV). On another occasion he entered the home of Jairus, whose twelve-year-old daughter had just died (5:35-40). When Christ "took the child by the hand," she arose immediately (vv. 41-42). Then a man inflicted with blindness was brought to him (8:22), and the Lord "took the blind man by the hand and led him out of town," where the man’s sight was restored in two stages (vv. 23-25). Later, Jesus encountered a boy inflicted with a mute spirit that caused uncontrollable seizures (9:17-22). When the unclean spirit was cast out, the boy convulsed and appeared as dead, but Christ "took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose" (v. 27).
      These episodes depict different people in different circumstances in life: both male and female, young and old. The first two involved females (a woman and a girl) and occurred indoors, whereas the other two involved males (a man and a boy) and took place outside. While all four healings were complete, the first two were immediate, while the others were not. Despite these minor differences, the one thing they all share in common is that Jesus deemed it necessary or beneficial to take each person by the hand. As we consider these fortunate souls who found themselves hand in hand with Jesus, what can we learn?
      From Simon’s mother-in-law we learn that Christ provides healing. Now as flesh and blood human beings living in a temporal world, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the curing of bodily illnesses. But the healing-power of Jesus goes well beyond the physical. When faced with criticism for associating with sinful people, the Lord responded: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick . . . . For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:12-13). The primary aim of the Great Physician is to heal the sin-sick soul. It is through God’s Son, and only through him, that the prescription for sin is available (Luke 19:10; Acts 4:12).
      From the daughter of Jairus we learn that Jesus gives life. But again, it is not physical life that is primarily at stake. When Martha’s brother Lazarus had died, the Lord said to her: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26). Jesus was not contradicting himself but was contrasting physical death with spiritual death, and physical life with spiritual life. It is through Christ alone that the second death is avoidable and eternal life is attainable (Revelation 20:11-15), as well as the abundant life we can enjoy right now (John 10:10).
      From the blind man we learn that Jesus offers guidance. He is "the good shepherd" (John 10:11), and as such "He leads me in the paths of righteousness" (Psalm 23:2-3). When we suffer from spiritual blindness, will we accept or reject the hand of guidance that is offered by Christ? Let’s appreciate that without studying, learning and obeying the scriptures, the outstretched hand of the Lord remains empty (John 8:12, 31-32; 12:48).
      From the epileptic boy we learn that Christ enables us to take control. As fallible human beings living in an imperfect world, we are continually bombarded from every direction by temptation, stressful circumstances, and life’s daily pressures. It is easy for our lives to seem out of control, and while the apostle Paul could certainly relate (Romans 7:8-24; 1 Corinthians 9:27), he found the solution in Jesus. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). As Paul learned to rely on "the power of Christ" rather than himself (2 Corinthians 12:9), he could confidently affirm: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
      Whatever our struggles might be, whether sinful addictions, guilt, anxiety, grief, anger, uncertainty, helplessness or hopelessness, the Lord is reaching out. Why keep trying unsuccessfully to face these challenges alone? Jesus is the one who offers spiritual healing. He provides everlasting life. He gives indisputable guidance. And Jesus is the one who enables our lives to be in control. Why not take the hand of the only one who can actually help? "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
--Kevin L. Moore

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